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marcros

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My dad gave me an axe. Either a felling axe or a forestry axe, I am not sure of the difference. It is old, but nothing special and I would think that it was probably from my grandfather's shed when cleared or a farm sale somewhere. Perfectly functional with a bit of tidying.

Therein lies the problem. It needs rehandling, which means I need to buy a handle and a wedge. It needs a good sharpen because it is so blunt that where the bevels meet is flat rather than pointed and I don't mean on a microscopic level.

I will get it back into a usable condition because I have a use for it and I don't want to chuck it in the corner and unnecessarily buy something else. I can understand why people don't bother because it will cost me £20 and an hour or two to do. I don't have any ash but to make a handle would take me much longer even if I had the timber For £30 I can buy a brand new Stihl forestry axe or one of several on eBay that only need sharpening. Frustratingly, despite Leeds being a big city, I can't easily find anywhere with an axe handle in stock (admittedly using Google).
 

Tris

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It could be worth trying agricultural merchants if you haven't already. If you draw a blank try Stow agricultural supplies online shop, they usually have a few in stock.
It certainly isn't financially worth while but I like the feeling of using a tool that would otherwise be chucked out.
 

Jameshow

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If your on eBay/ Amazon you should be able to find one.

Otherwise look up countryside stores as they are more likely to stock one.

Failing that you could carve one from a blank? Something strong like Douglas fir and carve it.

Cheers James
 

marcros

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I ha
It could be worth trying agricultural merchants if you haven't already. If you draw a blank try Stow agricultural supplies online shop, they usually have a few in stock.
It certainly isn't financially worth while but I like the feeling of using a tool that would otherwise be chucked out.
I have amazoned some metal wedges- part of the failure of the old one was that it had been bodged together with a scrap or two of wood instead of the wooden wedge and there was no metal one at all. I imagine that it held for a bit, then worked looser and looser. Knowing my grandfather he probably had 5 axes in the shed, all in various states of disrepair. From the same clearance I have been offered various sledge hammers, most of which I couldn't swing! It is possible (50/50) that I can save the handle.
 

marcros

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If your on eBay/ Amazon you should be able to find one.

Otherwise look up countryside stores as they are more likely to stock one.

Failing that you could carve one from a blank? Something strong like Douglas fir and carve it.

Cheers James
ebay have some. amazon less but also some. Online I can source one (although a lot of places are out of stock).
 

clogs

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same with hammer handles...tried to buy some for stock before I left France...
nobody seems to stock them any more.....
I have some really nice ball pein hammers that need a shaft......
As for 14lbs sledge handles forget it.....down to my last sledge now.....dohhhh....
mind I do use the bigger heads as weights when gluing up small peices....
 

toolsntat

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Can't recall if you do instagram?
If you do have a look at Josh. @axeyankee he often shaves back the wear which allows the eye to seat on fresh timber on the old helve. Refurbish the slot and make up fresh wedge.
Good old axe heads are in growing demand these days.
Also for inspiration have a look at @theaxeandegdetoolco on instagram.
Cheers Andy
 

Jacob

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I wasn't saying that I couldn't buy one, I was saying that I couldn't get one in Leeds that I was aware of, from searching on Google, is "Axe handle Leeds".
Oh yes sorry.
I see someone has already mentioned agricultural suppliers.
 

Cheshirechappie

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You'll know this anyway, Marcros, but just mentioning it for anyone that may not be aware; when an axe or hatchet head needs a new handle, leave the new handle or stock for making one somewhere warm and dry for as long as you can manage (at least a week or two), so the timber dries and shrinks. Once it's fitted to the head, any swelling due to moisture take-up will tighten the fit. If you use wood that's less than fully dry, the head may be tight when fitted, but loosen off a bit come summer warmth, and just driving the wedge deeper won't tighten it up for long. Don't ask me how I know that ....
 

marcros

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You'll know this anyway, Marcros, but just mentioning it for anyone that may not be aware; when an axe or hatchet head needs a new handle, leave the new handle or stock for making one somewhere warm and dry for as long as you can manage (at least a week or two), so the timber dries and shrinks. Once it's fitted to the head, any swelling due to moisture take-up will tighten the fit. If you use wood that's less than fully dry, the head may be tight when fitted, but loosen off a bit come summer warmth, and just driving the wedge deeper won't tighten it up for long. Don't ask me how I know that ....
Thanks. It makes perfect sense but I have to confess that I hadn't thought about it.
 

johnnyb

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I spent a luvverly few hours spokeshaving one from a bit of Ash. its a beautiful arched shape a fawns foot handle is.
 

marcros

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maybe one day. but I need some experience with knowing what shape I like first.
 

mikej460

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I found an old axe head in our old barn years ago and still have it, always meaning to buy a handle but never did. I wanted to do it for the same reason as you. As I had a load of ash to split I did some research and realised it would never be as good as a Fiskars X25 XL Splitting Axe so I bought one, it is a superb axe.
 

toolsntat

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You'll know this anyway, Marcros, but just mentioning it for anyone that may not be aware; when an axe or hatchet head needs a new handle, leave the new handle or stock for making one somewhere warm and dry for as long as you can manage (at least a week or two), so the timber dries and shrinks. Once it's fitted to the head, any swelling due to moisture take-up will tighten the fit. If you use wood that's less than fully dry, the head may be tight when fitted, but loosen off a bit come summer warmth, and just driving the wedge deeper won't tighten it up for long. Don't ask me how I know that ....
Following on from this and after reading a section in The Wood Wright's Companion by Roy Underhill, I got to thinking, could there be a way of making an axe head hold even tighter on the helve for longer.
Basically he says
"if a head of any sort is coming loose don't do the old trick of dunking it in water to swell up. This works so well the first time that you do it that the fibres of the wood are permanently crushed by being forced against the unyielding iron walls. When the handle dries out , it shrinks up smaller than it was when you began".

So, what about if you do a "near" fit then dry it out completely.
Next, do a really "tight" fit with an extended (and so removable) driven wedge, then dunk it to swell.
Dry it out again thoroughly, seat it down to take out any slack and then refit the wedge for the final time.
My theory is that the already crushed fibres and any subsequent swelling from natural moisture content should lock it on even tighter.
What do you reckon?
Cheers Andy
 

Cheshirechappie

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Does sound plausible - and as a method it would have another advantage, too.

Just about every video I've seen of factory tool makers fitting axe, hammer and similar handles has shown them using either a purpose-made rig or a press of some kind to force the (marginally oversize) handle into the steel tool eye, thus obviously compressing the wood fibres for a tighter fit.

Not many of us have a suitable press readily to hand, so we have to use the usual mallet, knives, shaves and whatever we have to do the job. Any technique that can get us close to the compressed fibres of a factory fitted handle has to help with long-term tightness of the fit. We may have to take longer over the job - fit, swell, dry, refit, over a period of a few days or a couple of weeks, to get close to the tightness of a forced factory fit, but the advantage would be that of getting us closer to that sort of tightness than just by shaping and knocking-in with a mallet.

Anybody else have any thoughts?
 

jcassidy

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Any small builders supplier will have handles, at least here in Ireland. The kind that aren't on Google cos it's some 200 year old guy behind the counter who still uses pen and paper.
 

Tris

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Back in the mists of time I trained at Pershore horticultural college, where one of the classes was 'estate maintenance'. This included re-handling tools and was taught by a chap that looked very much like Phil Harding without the hat. His method for an axe was to make sure the wood was dry and that the axe head was warm. Shave the handle to a tight fit (scrap timber to tap it back out) then put one wedge lengthways then two across, about a quarter of the way in each side. The wedges were always fairly rough sawn to help them grip and extended about two thirds of the way into the head. The handle would always protrude through the head a bit and then be rasped back flush. He wasn't adverse to a drop of glue on the leading edge of the wedge if it was available.
Wedges had to be well seasoned hardwood but never oak or steel as one ate metal, the other drill bits if you had to get the handle out again.
I've used this method many times and have yet to have a handle work loose on one I've repaired.
 

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